ZiplineFor those of us who love the outdoors and crave adventure and challenges, shows like Survivor or The Amazing Race makes us question whether we have what it takes to compete. 

Dana Johnson understands. She’s the owner of a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based adventure concierge travel company called Open Leaf Excursions and writes a blog called Shut Up and Go Outside

“I am all about getting people into the outdoors and was looking for a way to get more people out at one time,” Johnson says. “When people watch Survivor or The Amazing Race they always ask themselves if they could hack it during the challenges. Now there’s a chance to try some of those challenges with friends, without slowly starving on rice or being eaten alive by tropical bugs.”

Johnson created The Wicked Wild Child to give people a chance to challenge themselves through a series of adventurous activities. “Everyone can participate because we’ve included the intellectual puzzles as well as the physical challenges,” Johnson adds. “If a team member isn’t very physical due to an injury or fear, he/she doesn’t have to do the high adventure stuff like zip-lining. The golf putting challenge or puzzles will be a better fit.”


The Wicked Wild Child is set to take place September 13-15 in Niagara, Wisc., a quiet city founded in 1900 on the banks of the Menominee River in the northeast corner of the state. Niagara is an Iroquois word that means “thundering waters” and participants will be able to tackle those thundering waters during a whitewater rafting leg of the obstacle.

T-RaftMary Lind Mahmud of Naperville, Ill., is ready to channel her inner wicked wild child and has enlisted the help of her daughters Lailaa and Yasmeen to be part of her team. “[The Wicked Wild Child] was appealing to me from the get go because it sounds like a blast, and it’s a great goal for someone in desperate need of a shining light — recent deaths of both parents, last baby leaving the nest for college, changes all around,” she says. “But the deal was sealed when I ran it by my wild child and she went crazy over it, begging me to do it AND bring her and her sister along.”

Mahmud doesn’t have any reservations about doing the event and although she admits she’s never been a runner she thinks this is a great mix of exercise, risk and fun.

Johnson welcomes participants like Mahmud. Although this is the first year she’s organizing The Wicked Wild Child, she’s organized other similar events and has found that the most surprising moment is when the person you least expect to handle a challenge simply digs in and nails it. “It’s usually an older individual or someone who appears very introverted,” says Johnson. “Something about adventure brings out the beast in them and they rock it! It’s very gratifying to put together adventure events like this because people bond over the adrenaline and get super excited when they conquer their fears.”

Children ages 12 and older can participate and Johnson says people are welcome to participate as a family while some teenagers make their own team and some adults leave the kids at home and make it a weekend of fun with their friends.

Johnson hopes to bring The Wicked Wild Child to other cities throughout the country and encourage more people to head outdoors and feed their sense of adventure.

T-WickedTo learn more about The Wicked Wild Child, visit the website.

 Megy Karydes is founder of Wandering Tastes, a travel and lifestyle website meant to inspire others to take more adventures. She often writes for both consumer and B2B media outlets on food, travel, fair trade and sustainability.